Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to faking homophobic hate crime on first day back in court
Gay former Empire actor Jussie Smollett appeared in court on Monday, February 24, to plead not guilty to restored charges of disorderly conduct for staging a hate crime against himself.
Smollett claimed he was the victim of a homophobic and racist attack in January, 2019, in which two unidentified men attacked him, used homophobic and racist slurs and looped a noose around his neck.
Two brothers, Abel and Ola Osundairo, told police that they were paid by Smollett to stage the attack.
Chicago police officers later accused him of faking the attack for publicity, and he was indicted in March on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for filing false police reports.
However, later the same month, all charges against the gay actor were dropped for reasons that remain unclear.
Special prosecutor Dan Webb was appointed in August to investigate the decision in order to “restore the public’s confidence in the integrity of our criminal justice system”.
On February 11, Webb announced that a grand jury in Illinois had returned six of the indictments for disorderly conduct over four separate police reports to the Chicago Police Department.
On Monday, February 24, Smollett appeared at a criminal court in Cook County, Chicago, for his arraignment and pleaded not guilty to the returned indictments.
According to CBS, special prosecutor Webb requested a $10,000 bail but judge James Linn said that the actor was not a flight risk and granted his release on his own recognisance.
One of Smollett’s attorneys, Tina Glandian, said they were arguing that the charges should be dismissed on double jeopardy grounds.
She told CBS: “One of the protections that the double jeopardy clause provides is not to punish somebody twice for the same offence.
“Previously, he did forfeit his bond in the amount of $10,000. That in essence was a punishment stemming from the criminal proceedings, and therefore trying to punish him again a second time around is not permitted under the double jeopardy clause.
“You don’t just get a do over.”
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The actor’s attorneys are also appealing to the Illinois Supreme Court to vacate the decision to appoint the special prosecutor.
Brothers who claim Jussie Smollett paid them to stage hate crime want ‘truth to be told’.
The Osundairo brothers attended the arraignment, and their lawyer also told CBS: “They are here because they want the truth to be told. They are here because they are confident in the work that the Chicago Police Department and the special prosecutor’s office put into this investigation.
“To anyone out there that thinks they got some kind of immunity or some kind of plea deal out of this, that’s incorrect.
“The brothers want the public to know that they were honest, and open, and remorseful about their conduct in this entire event. They have been truthful since day one.”
Smollett is due back in court on March 18.